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Brain-implanted devices could lead to medical breakthroughs

Katherine Long, The Seattle Times on

Published in Business News

"I'm happy to help -- anything I can do to advance the science," he said.

Robotic-hand venture

Another part of the center's charter is to spin out new companies that make use of the technology it's inventing.

It is one of the sponsors of a new company, Embotic Technology, which has developed a robotic hand that mimics an actual human hand.

The hand was created by Zhe Xu, who graduated from UW's computer science and engineering program in 2016 and is working on a Ph.D.

The hand has a wide variety of potential applications, including robotic manipulation research, medical education and space exploration. It could be used in humanoid robotics, adopted as part of an advanced prosthetic, and used in rescue and military applications. It could even be used in animatronics -- lifelike robots -- in the movie/entertainment industry.

It took about seven years for Xu to develop the hand, something that was made possible by both a dramatic explosion in robotic technology and the development of new tools like 3D printers and laser cutters. "They all converged at the same moment," Ransom said.

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Xu, who calls his robotic hands "avatars," said the technology makes it possible to create them for anyone.

He's discovered that it's much easier for you to learn how to operate a robot hand that's a print of your own hand. And if the hand is outfitted with sensors, you're also likely to describethis as feeling like an out-of-body experience.

"Suddenly, you feel like you're controlling yourself remotely," Xu said.

(c)2018 The Seattle Times

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